SOUTH BEND – Should guns be allowed on public college campuses?
Indiana lawmakers are talking about Senate Bill 97, a measure that would allow students with permits to carry a gun. If that bill became law, it would be illegal for state supported universities to make their own rules about guns on campus.
A Republican senator introduced the bill after students approached lawmakers, wanting to carry guns for their own protection.
“It’s not just a liberty, but it's for our safety. And it's personal for a lot of us,” said IU Bloomington sophomore Crayle Vanest, who is also president of IU’s chapter of Students for Concealed Carry on Campus.
For Vanest and students with similar views, the bill is a step toward safer college campuses.
“It’s not the university’s place to say you can have the Bill of Rights or an education, and it's not a matter of saying 'I'll go to a different school,' because almost all schools in the nation have policies like this,” she added.
Closer to home at IU South Bend, some students agree.
“I think it’s a good thing, because anybody should be able to carry a gun anywhere,” said sophomore Bryce LaCosse.
Others say it would make them feel less safe.
“There’s people who are mentally incapable of handling a gun in the proper way and that would be a really bad choice,” junior Dany Meyer told WSBT.
Right now, guns are prohibited on all IU campuses except for law enforcement. There are similar policies at Purdue, Ball State and other public universities, including community colleges such as Ivy Tech.
“We believe that we’re able to maintain security with the staff that we have,” said Ivy Tech North Central Region Chancellor Thomas Coley.
Indiana University says it is against the bill. Coley won’t take an official stance.
“Our preference would be that we would not create an environment where someone would have anything that would cause harm to a student that we wouldn't be aware of,” he said.
But Vanest disputes that, saying her group encourages responsibility.
“If somebody’s going to meet you with deadly force, some people want to be prepared for that. I want to be prepared for that,” she said.
Only 8 states currently allow concealed carry on campus. More than 20, including Michigan, banned it altogether.
Private colleges and universities would be exempt from the law. Saint Mary’s College, Bethel College and Notre Dame would be able to keep the rules they currently have, which do not allow guns on campus except for police.